Serious embarrassment disasters seem to create file guides in our minds, making it impossible for us to forget the gory details attached to these unexpected, horrendous moments in our lives we’d literally pay big money to forget.
Moments which Murphy himself would have sighed, “Ahhh” and patted himself on the back for having given credence to Way Back When.
Moments we’d just as soon not relive but find ourselves forced to, anyway – as in having to write this, thanks to George, my Navy submariner friend, and the idiotic bet he somehow managed to sucker me into.
Because I lost the bet – a really stupid bet – I’m forced to publicly bare my own embarrassing “underwear.”
If you’re like me, no matter what you do or where you go, you somehow manage to be the designated embarrassment magnet.
When a full glass suddenly topples over at a party, the liquid in that glass is destined to land squarely in no one’s crotch but your own.
When a stranger in a store sprints for the restroom on the verge of vomiting, you are sure to be that shopper’s regurgitation recepticle simply because your cart, three seconds earlier, turned left instead of right.
When you’re in a hurry to get from Point A to Point B, you are the impromptu brain surgeon who backs out of a parking space magically causing a three-car accident while punching the gas pedal to a mere two miles per hour.
Face it. We are, plainly put, one – if not several – living, breathing Murphy’s Laws in motion nearly all the time. And we’ve somehow managed to bungle our way through to living them all during the course of our own pathetic, embarrassment-magnet lives.
It was, after all, the infamous Murphy who observed for all eternity that if anything can go wrong, it will. That nature always sides with the hidden flaw. Nothing is as easy as it looks. Not to mention the Murphy’s Law I am especially fond of: Whenever you say it can’t get worse, it does.
And boy oh boy, does it.
You’ve gotta love this guy, Murphy. He’s about as uplifting and downright fun as finding out you have duty the day the ship pulls in from a six-month deployment.
*Murphy’s Law: “If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.”
Invited to attend an elegant mayoral election victory party the same year I moved to Norfolk, I not only managed to arrive on time but was dressed to the nines, despite that I had dashed from my job as lead development coordinator for the Sears Corporation a mere 45 minutes earlier.
Slipping into high-heeled pumps and zipping up my classy After Five cocktail dress in the parking lot, I strutted confidently into the convention center.
While hobnobbing with the local elite attending this gala event, I excused myself to visit the ladies’ room. As I descended the grand staircase on my way back to the festivities, I glimpsed several men along the way turning toward each other, gesturing toward me and chuckling.
It wasn’t until I neared my seat close to the dais where the mayor sat that I realized I was dragging a good ten feet of toilet paper from my left heel.
Embarrassing? OMG, yes! Worth withering up and dying over? Probably.
Instead, I reached down and wadded the toilet paper into a ball. With a feigned amount of impromptu gusto, I took aim to slam-dunk the drink the bartender, off to the right, was busy mixing.
Two-thirds of those in attendance laughed uproariously. The other third gasped, but I didn’t care. I somehow managed to save enough face that night to take my seat with poise and composure before crumbling into a mortified heap.
Debi’s Corollary Law: “Roll with the punches gracefully or take the punch and look stupid – it’s your choice.”
*Murphy’s Law: “Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.“
Over the years, I’ve frequently been hired to read Scripture and romantically-inspired literary passages at church weddings – a sideline job I truly enjoy. One wedding was an especially formal and traditional Catholic ceremony involving a High Mass before 500 people held in an ornate cathedral just outside Washington, DC.
The ceremony itself ran smooth as a ribbon of silk. Despite that as I delivered the Biblical verses and inspirational passages I had been instructed to announce over the public address system during the wedding, I’d had to dash twice from the microphone to help the bride disentangle herself from her twisted wedding train at the altar.
Once vows were exchanged, the wedding party gathered outside on the steep steps of the cathedral for formal photographs to be taken in the late afternoon spring sunlight. My services no longer required, I headed for an exit, thrusting open a door which I thought led to the parking lot.
As the door swung wide, one of my high heels caught in the grating of the entry, catapulting me in scissor-like fashion over the threshold, tearing in the process the modest slit in my “Sunday best” suit skirt, exposing fully both of my upper thighs.
With one leg in the air and the other trailing fast behind it, I landed unceremoniously in the arms of the groom who had been positioned moments before on the steps outside for photographs next to his lovely bride with the rest of the wedding party perfectly posed around them.
Instantly, the bride flailed wildly for balance and lost it, landing in a frothy white lump at the bottom of the stairs. The groom flashed a cheesy grin with me and my exposed thighs in his arms. The photographer didn’t miss a beat, capturing the entire catastrophic moment on film, which ended up consuming three solid pages in this couples’ wedding album.
Debi’s Corollary Law: “If you’re going to screw up, make sure you do it with style.”
Murphy’s Law: “It’s impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.”
Invited by a male Navy friend to attend the lavish commissioning ball of his ship, the USS George Washington, I was more than excited. I was literally walking on air. Having nothing appropriate to wear to an event as formal as a ball, a Navy wife who lived next door offered me from her own closet a gorgeous off-the-shoulders satin gown that hung in folds – rich, cascading, royal blue folds – from the bodice to the floor.
The dress was utterly breath-taking. Unfortunately, my upper torso lacked the right “oomph” to fill it properly. She suggested a pair of crew socks from her husband’s dresser drawer to plump me up where I needed it most. I accepted the socks and stuffed them into the top of the gown.
The socks, tragically, took on a life of their own at the Virginia Beach Pavillion that evening. Out they inched from the top of the gown whenever I least expected it. While in the reception area sipping wine with my friend’s co-workers, out popped a sock heel. While sitting with Navy chiefs and officers over dinner, out came a sock toe. While waiting in line for the restroom, sure enough, a segment of sock made a grand entrance from the top of the beautiful gown I wore.
I made several trips to the restroom that evening, not only because of the socks in my dress, but because every piece of food I attempted to bring from the plate to my lips managed to miraculously leap from the fork and roll down the front of my neighbor’s gown. Buttered rolls. Steamed asparagus. Exquisitely-carved medallions of roast beef.
By the time we left the ball that evening, that poor dress had done battle with every morsel on the table as those crew socks continued to try to wave their own ‘she-has-no-bosom!’ white-flag of surrender for all in attendance to laughingly observe.
Debi’s Corollary Law: “There’s no fool like an old fool – especially ingenious old fools who try to stuff their bras with crew socks, only to make even bigger fools of themselves at formal affairs.”
I hope George is happy.
Having to write this isn’t quite as humiliating as carrying crape myrtle branches for cover while running nude down Military Highway, but it comes darn close.
When he wants to sucker someone into a bet again, I hope he’s 1000 miles at sea. I won’t be home or answering the phone.
You can bet on it.